A lot has happened in the last 2 weeks, or so. In no particular order ...
EDIT: I realized I haven't previously posted the latest UI - enjoy.
Gem Smash is fully functional (but hidden) in the Microsoft Store.
This website has been re-branded to be less of a DevBlog and more of a support site for Gem Smash (when it launches). Forums have been added as well.
I've also smashed a load of quite subtle bugs - some going back to the proto-type. I did muse, back in February, how much value I'd get from the proto-type: on balance, I wouldn't do it again. Maybe I was sloppy with the proto-type. /shrug
The Microsoft Store integration has been flogged pretty hard. I'm now confident that no-one will get ripped off (including me!).
I've tried to subtly increase the difficulty of the game. It's still very RNG dependent, but it's a lot less likely that people will cruise through 80+ levels as once was the case. The shortest game I've seen in testing ended in level 2 - but that is quite rare. It's usually around level 10-15 where games end, which I think is generous to players.
So, when will it launch?
That's the million dollar question. The two things holding me up now are animations (to give the game more POP) and the Tutorial.
The Tutorial is becoming a bit of a drag, (possibly because I'm over-thinking it).
The original concept was to have tutorial levels that showcased each of the major game elements - specifically the five special gems and their powers.
Bear in mind that special gems are a 2 step process - create them & consume them. I can currently rig the set-up so that the "create" step is the only option, but then there's a random step to refill the grid, which may compromise the "consume" step. Having a fully scripted experience could be more code than I already have (which is a lot).
This weekend, I'm AFK, with my (paper) notebook. I'll try to design some tutorial levels, which showcase the features I believe are important. But, I'll also use this time to question what the tutorial is for (or whether it can be incorporated in the game). I want to come back with this sorted.
If I do, 1st June looks like a good launch date!